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My backup vocals -> Mic -> some box -> AUX In of bass amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BarristerOnBass, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. Wanted to run something by all you wonderful gear experts. I play bass in a 4-piece cover band that is an on-again, off-again kind of deal.

    Drummer and keyboardist are modestly self-amped. Guitarist is also lead vocalist, and he tends to run his mic through this mic in on his looper pedal so that his vocals end up layered with his guitar, through his amp. Not a great solution because it has a pretty low threshold for feedback, but it gets him through practices, is portable enough, and avoids the (much discussed, thorny) issue of the band buying a PA together.

    I sing backup vocals. I'm about to nab a GK MB210 which, like many modern combos, has an AUX in - kind of a seldom used part on my last combo. My understanding is that on these types of amps, we're talking about a line level, unbalanced stereo input that is amped at a set level and combined with the instrument signal (post-EQ and post-levels) to share the speakers.

    My question is: if I got a mic, and found some way to convert from mic level to line level (e.g. through a mic preamp box?) and ran it into the AUX in of my bass amp, could I possibly use that to amplify my backup vocals while I'm playing bass in small venues (sans-PA)? Or is there something about this plan that dooms it to total failure?
  2. Correction (and bump): just looked at the MB210 wiring diagram, and it appears that the AUX in on that amp is post EQ but pre master volume knob.

    Has nobody ever tried this? If I get a basic mic preamp with 300 ohm output impedance, will that be too hot for an input designed to accept the headphone feed of CD/mp3 players?
  3. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Get a real PA. The reality is that poor paying gigs don't supply PA, you're expected to, and you're going to play a lot of poor paying gigs before you get to the point of playing the better gigs where you don't have to supply your own. If you don't showcase yourself well in the toilet gigs with a decent PA you'll never escape the toilet tour.
    If you can get the PA yourself, not as a band, and get proficient running it. You then can always make extra money by renting out your PA along with you running it to other poor schmoes who don't have their own.
  4. will33


    May 22, 2006
    You could but it will likely won't sound that good. Your guitarist singing through his amp will sound like pure crap. You guys need a simple small vocal PA. Something like a powered mixer head, 2 mains and 2 monitors. It doesn't have to have a lot of channels or be big and powerful. Look on the used market and pick it up a piece at a time as you get good deals on things. If money's not a problem, you can pick the whole thing up new as a package deal but there's really no need to.

    In most band situations, especially an on again/off again cover band, I advise against the "pool our money/group buy" type stuff. Somebody always ends up not pulling their weight or gets a controlling attitude or if somebody leaves, you have to either buy them or end up with an incomplete system. Buy it yourself, own it, and it's yours. After you have it and you don't miss the money anymore, you'll enjoy it, find other uses for it, and be a bigger asset to a band. IMO, a real singer should own a small setup like that to amplify their instrument (their voice) to the level of a drumkit and be able to carry their sound in smaller gigs just like a guitar amp or bass amp does....this rarely happens. Usually it's the bass players who either have a PA or at least know how to operate one.
  5. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    A PA is the real answer, but for "on the cheap", get a Roland KC350 or 550. They're keyboard amps, but have 4 channel mixer and actual XLR mic inputs. Way more better than trying to use a guitar or bass amp.
  6. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada

    I use a couple passive yorkville 112s as mains and they are great and only $250 each.

    If really broke you could probably get away with only one monitor. Another cheap way of doing things, which is what I am using, is buying a used behringer mixer and mating it with a bass amp where you can bypass the pre and just use its power amp. I do that with my gkmb500 and it works great. With that setup you'll also need some more eq control. I use a boss geb7 with a little smiley face and it sounds great.

    When you get enough money buy a 'real' pa if so inclined... but I find the above works great and is plenty powerful enough for small and medium sized venues.

    Here's a sound sample of my PA: Cruiser ~ Rock and Roll Dance Band ---www.CruiserBand.com--- - YouTube
  7. Monitors are nice, but you can play without them. My folk rock band, when we supply the PA (which my guitarist/singer owns), just have mains.

    It'd be nice to have monitors, though.
  8. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Agreed, but now that I am singing more I find I need stage monitors now more than ever.

    In the OP's case he can buy his own and let his bandmates do the same. One other tip is that if you use powered monitors you dont have to worry about impedence issues of your PA amp. Just run a line out to each monitor and you're good. I built my own monitor using a gkmb200 and a JBL highend 10" midrange driver. Most of the time I use it for a stage monitor but can also use it as low volume bass combo. If my amp ever dies at a gig I can easily pull out the mb200 and use it as my backup bass amp.
  9. Well, powered monitors might be something else I'll put on my music wish-list then, ha ha.

    Recently, with one of my metal bands, we did some recording, and hearing the playback of the vocal tracks was interesting. It was the first time we'd actually been able to clearly hear the vocals, ever.
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Why does the drummer have an amp? Why not use his amp for vocals?

    FYI, only one XLR input per the manual.

    Here's a list of the ins/outs:
    CH1 INPUT Jack (XLR type)
    CH1-4 INPUT L (MONO) Jacks (1/4" phone type)
    CH1-4 INPUT R Jacks (1/4" phone type)
    LINE OUT L (MONO) Jacks (XLR type, 1/4" phone type)
    LINE OUT R Jacks (XLR type, 1/4" phone type)
    AUX IN Jacks (RCA phono type)
    SUBWOOFER OUT Jack (1/4" phone type)
    STEREO LINK OUT Jack (1/4" phone type)
    STEREO LINK IN Jack (1/4" phone type)
    PHONES Jack (Stereo 1/4" phone type)

    More at: Roland U.S. - KC-550: Stereo Mixing Keyboard Amplifier

    IME, your bass amp won't put out enough highs for your vocals to be heard well...if at all.

    Back in the day one band I was in, the lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist sand and played through an Acoustic 150 (150 SS watts/6x10 cab). It was so loud that in all the gigs we played (1-2 a week) in the time I was in the band, no one ever complained about it. We were poor and didn't go in for the group PA thing, so there you are.

    If you're planning on gigging, excellent sounding vocals will get you those paying gigs. Another method to purchase a PA is for each member to own a specific piece of the PA rig.
  11. All you need is a mic preamp and a custom cable. You can get a little one channel utility preamp for like 30 bucks. Some even have a toob, for making things warm and punchy.

    If you have a stompbox EQ kicking around you might want to get that involved.

    It won't sound that bad.

    Don't get me wrong, it won't sound good, but it won't sound that bad. No worse than a JBL Eon box or whatever.

    If you do this a lot you are going to want a for-real PA at some point down the road.
  12. Thanks for all the tips, everyone. Let me clarify a few things:

    1. The drummer is self-amped because he has an electric kit.
    2. We're not getting a PA. I know it would be better, but we just aren't. I've looked into it. I don't have the storage (live downtown / no car) and would frankly rather dump money into my own bass stuff.
    3. Yes, the vocalist/guitarist doesn't sound very good singing through his own amp. Half the time he's using a crappy-ass little practice amp, too.
    4. We're amateurs, with vastly different income levels and somewhat different skill levels. Don't worry, I know the mic through the AUX-in on top of my bass playing won't be as good as a keyboard amp or a PA. My question is more like (a) will something burst into flames, and (b) will it at least be better than no backup vocals at all?

    My point is this: usually when we need a PA, the house has one. But with his mic-in loop pedal thingy, our guitarist/vocalist is able to get moderate volume for his vocals at levels that far exceed "unplugged" - think house parties, rehearsals, etc. All I'm asking is if there is some techincal reason why I couldn't match that capability with a $30 mic preamp into my AUX-in. It sounds like I'll be okay (thanks T-Bird and projectMalamute).

    I was sorely tempted to buy a PA or a keyboard amp. I've read plenty on how to do it cheap. The drummer and I can afford it. But in agreement with the principle expressed here and on other threads, it shouldn't be my problem. I only sing backup because somebody has to - not because I particularily enjoy having to do something else while I'm playing bass.
  13. Sorry, I should also clarify - we don't do paid gigs. We play largely for our own entertainment, and frankly the drummer and I had a hard time finding somebody who could sing and play guitar at a decent skill level without wanting to be some kind of pro.

    I'm not a pro. I'm a lawyer who (lately) is doing 12 hour days and just wants to come home, throw on a pair of jeans, put the bass on my back, grab a ~33 lb MB210 and ride the subway somewhere to go rock out - either at an open jam, or with this totally non-serious cover band. Maybe some other bassists should own a second amp, or a PA with speakers, or a monitor... but not me. In university I was often the guy driving around all the sound equipment, hooking it all up, fiddling with it or paying for it... screw that.
  14. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
  15. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Just a thought. You could get a small mixer and run the microphone into that. Then run the headphone out into your GK'S auxillary in. You'll have a lot better control over your vocals that way--both level and eq.
  16. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Sorry for the first post--my 17 month old touched my computer.
  17. bobcruz


    Mar 10, 2004
    BonB, your plan will work as a few have mentioned, and may sound reasonable. A step up for you would be to invest in a Thunderchild rig, which many have reported sounds great for bass AND vocals or any other PA use. They're light but spendy, and you'll need a micro head to go with it. Nothing you really "need" but it's nice to have an excuse to upgrade your rig. FYI, I've run some vocals through my Avatar 112 neos and they sound almost PA-like, very, very good. But they're bigger and heavier than the Thunderchild (though they only cost about half as much) so might not suit your car-free lifestyle. Good luck,
  18. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Yes, you could use an ART TubeMP to boost the mic and run the out into your bass amp. As far as sound quality?...meh, the tweeter will help. May have to find some compromise on the eq between good vocal and good bass tone but nothing will burst into flames.
  19. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Here's how I'd do it. First, I'd get one of these:


    Then I would plug my bass into one channel and my mic in the other. Then run the output of the mixer into the input of your amp. That way you can adjust the level and EQ of each channel. If you want to run bass effects, you'd have to put them between your bass and the mixer input, not in your amp's effects loop. I have no idea how it would sound, since your cab is going to be designed for bass.

    On a side note, when I first got my Avalon U5, I plugged it into one of my Mackie SA1530 powered PA speakers just to try it out with a bass. The bass sounded so good, I almost wanted to use that as my rig. That kind of cab would really work well for the setup I described above.

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